According to four different field testers, this lightweight, rugged pack handles dense loads better than any daypack here. “I give it an A+ for moving awkward, heavy loads over steep, rocky terrain,” asserts one of the crew after lugging crack climbing gear across the notoriously rocky landscape of Wyoming’s Vedauwoo State Park. Credit the pack’s stiff nylon framesheet, combined with a torsionally flexible, butterfly-shaped aluminum perimeter stay that does a superior job of transferring loads of up to 20 pounds with no discernible bounce or sway. Heavy loads sit low in the narrow packbag, enhancing stability.
The dynamic shoulder straps and hipbelt—which move independently of the pack to keep the weight in sync with your body—minimize rubbing and improve balance when you’re scrambling across boulders or high-stepping over windblown timber. The suspension’s mesh-encased-foam and EVA backpanel with cookie-cutter holes breathe remarkably well, keeping one tester’s back nearly sweat-free on humid, 85°F days. And the pack’s coated nylon fabric, with welded reinforcement patches, delivers armor-like durability.
After more than six months of heavy use, from a week of following the Comanche Trail through Big Bend State and National Parks to a cross-country climbing and hiking trip, the Bolt emerged remarkably unscathed. “Even the stretch-mesh dual side pockets and hipbelt pouch, which are prime candidates for punishment, are good as new,” says one tester. Quibble: The fixed lid can’t expand for overstuffing. $130; 2 lbs.; 24 liters; 2 sizes; blackdiamondequipment.com